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Festgoers gather around a popular ride during last year’s Frühlingsfest.
Festgoers gather around a popular ride during last year’s Frühlingsfest. (Courtesy of Stuttgart Tourist Office)
Festgoers gather around a popular ride during last year’s Frühlingsfest.
Festgoers gather around a popular ride during last year’s Frühlingsfest. (Courtesy of Stuttgart Tourist Office)
What’s a fest without clowns? Stuttgart, Germany’s Frühlingsfest not only has clowns, but rides, food and games as well.
What’s a fest without clowns? Stuttgart, Germany’s Frühlingsfest not only has clowns, but rides, food and games as well. (Courtesy of Stuttgart Frühlingsfest)
The Frühlingsfest is expected to attract more than 1 million visitors this year.
The Frühlingsfest is expected to attract more than 1 million visitors this year. (Courtesy of Stuttgart Frühlingsfest)

STUTTGART, Germany — Ready to ride the PowerTower2? How about the Eurostar?

Just ride them before hitting the beer tents, not after.

The 68th Frühlingsfest, Stuttgart’s big springtime party, opens Saturday and runs for 23 days. It’s a lot like the Oktoberfest in Munich, but about one-third the size. That doesn’t mean it’s small. Organizers say that about 1.5 million people are expected to visit the festival, which takes place at the Cannstatter Wasen, a 10-acre site along the Neckar River in the northeastern part of the city.

“We want people to have fun, of course, and be friendly with each other,” said Katrin Henke, a Frühlingsfest organizer. “This will come naturally.”

The PowerTower2 and Eurostar are two of the more dastardly rides that will be available.

One lifts riders 215 feet into the air before dropping them in a free fall. The other is a roller coaster where riders hang in their seats and are whipped up, around and upside down at 60 mph.

For those seeking mellower adventure, the Riesenrad Ferris wheel takes riders 180 feet into the air. There also will be lower-altitude spinning rides, bumper cars and rides for kids.

Four big beer tents that can hold up to 3,000 revelers will have bands playing, people dancing and beer served in one-liter glass mugs. Smaller beer stands are located outside.

The tents also will have food available, but plenty more food is sold throughout the fairgrounds.

The “French Village” offers a much wider variety of chow than the Oktoberfest. Garlic-laced meals from the Alsace region, cakes, baguettes with various toppings and gourmets offerings, including seafood, are on the menu.

Vendors will also be selling Swabian specialties such as Maultaschen, a raviolilike dish stuffed with spinach, egg and other goodies, and Spätzle, which is German pasta garnished with cheese or other toppings.

And sausage? Well, it is Germany, so naturally there will be a variety of wursts to chomp. The party starts at noon Saturday when one of the city’s VIPs uses a big hammer to smash open the first keg of beer.

Stuttgart holds the Frühlingsfest for fun, but also uses it as a tourist attraction, according to Karin Storz of the city’s tourist office.

“People come from all over Germany, even from Italy,” Storz said. “If you are there, you can hear it.

“They go to the city and have fun, go shopping and visiting museums or [other attractions]. There’s so much to do here.”

If you go . . .

What: 68th Frühlingsfest, or “spring festival.”

Where: Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgart, Germany.

When: Saturday through May 7, 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Parking: Costs 4 euros.

Special days: Every Wednesday is family day, with discount prices for food and rides. Discount prices for parking and food between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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